Embiid's return inspires 76ers, defense helps Mavericks in NBA playoffs

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NEW YORK, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Star center Joel Embiid returned from a facial injury as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Miami Heat 99-79 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Friday.

Falling 0-2 behind, the 76ers urgently needed assurance before the game, and the fans of Philadelphia had a shot in the arm when Embiid entered the tunnel wearing the black mask.

Even though fans expected an avenging Embiid, other Sixers got into the game quickly as James Harden's three-pointer and Tobias Harris' coast-to-coast runner started a 14-2 run. Thanks to Jimmy Butler's heroic performance and Max Strus' chase-down block, the difference was not widened, and the 76ers led the Heat 41-34 at the end of the second quarter.

Both sides' offenses were a lot more smooth in the second half. The Sixers were firmly in control at first, but after Harden fell into foul trouble, Butler stepped out with two and-ones to close the gap. After the Heat tied the game at 57-57 in the third quarter, Sixers' Tyrese Maxey, who hadn't shown a strong desire to score, suddenly burst with a deep three-pointer and a layup to steady the team.

In the fourth quarter, Maxey and Danny Green's three-pointers along with Harden and Matisse Thybulle's scores in the paint turned the game into trash time.

Danny Green and Tyrese Maxey each scored 21 points to lead Sixers' box score, and Embiid had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Butler scored 33 points, Tyler Herro added 14 for the Heat.

In the Western Conference, Dallas Mavericks strengthened its defensive pressure to beat the top-seeded Phoenix Suns 103-94, avoiding a cornered 3-0. On Mavericks' side, Luka Doncic had 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Jalen Brunson added 28. Suns' starters were all in double figures, Jae Crowder had 19, followed by Devin Booker's 18. Enditem

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